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Home / The Pit Stop Myth

If all you know of Redding is that it’s the place to stop for gas or some sleep (and In-N-Out Burger) on a long drive… you’ve been duped. Don’t feel bad: it happens to the best of us. Life is less about what happens to you and more about how you respond to it, right? And now that you are informed, little cave dweller, you can leave the shadows and go to the light. (That’s a Plato reference, we’re not actually calling you a cave creature. (We have caves, so we would never do that.))

Redding is the largest city between Sacramento and Eugene, Oregon, and it forms a wagon wheel of highways and waterways, sitting on Interstate 5, CA 299, Highway 44, and the Sacramento River, so whether you’re headed to California’s lost coast, the Pacific Northwest, or Disneyland, you’re probably going to cruise through Redding. When you do: discover why there’s [FAR] more to Northern California than the Golden Gate Bridge.

A lot can be accomplished in just one Redding afternoon! If you have kids or just embrace wonder like one, Turtle Bay Exploration Park can satisfy everyone’s curiosity, and the Sundial Bridge is right there, like a glass-decked yellow brick road taking you to the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Wandering around the bridge, gardens, children’s garden, and river trail is free, so if you just got gouged at the gas pump, you can feel like you still got your money’s worth out of Redding, and your dog can tag along. Check TurtleBay.org for hours and prices, and there’s a café, so you can fuel your blood sugar too.

If hours trapped in the car necessitates a dose of the great outdoors, you can get a lot of naturing done in a short window of time at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, which is also a dog-friendly option. It has 70 miles of trails, four waterfalls, a historic orchard, and even great paddling if you packed your inflatable SUP, want to rent a kayak locally, or can join a ranger-led kayak tour in the summer. 

Just a few miles down the road, pop in to Shasta State Historic Park for a taste of Gold Rush-era life, complete with a preserved courtroom, jail cell and gallows, blacksmith shop, and general store. See the ruins of what was once the Queen City of California’s early days, and grab a panini at Shorty’s Eatery or have a picnic on the large lawn by the historic barn. The park also has an impressive collection of California artwork, if you’re tired of staring at the road (or the back of the head of whoever called shotgun).

If you have 2-3 hours, you owe yourself a stop at the incredible Lake Shasta Caverns, which are just north of Redding, on Interstate 5, and are open daily year-round. The caverns are a National Natural Landmark, and a geologic adventure for the whole crew. First, the Caverns staff will take you on a scenic catamaran cruise across an arm of the famous Shasta Lake, then you’ll take a short-but-scenic bus ride up the hill, where the caverns await. No mere hole in the mountain, the Lake Shasta Caverns are made up of several large rooms, including the Cathedral Room, all decked out in stunning formations, millions of years in the making. Tours are fun and informative, and really, nothing gives you a little perspective on your place on the planet like geology. Preserving the caverns means no pups allowed, though, so Chompers will have to guard the car. 

Besides all the activities you can fit into a quick stop in Redding, there are also hundreds of restaurants, (yes, there are more places to eat on Interstate 5 than just In-N-Out), so even if you’re just passing through and not staying the night, you can still get a taste of what Redding offers. Just promise that next time you’ll stay long enough to do everything we didn’t list here. 




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Sundial Bridge

Shasta Dam

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Whiskeytown Nat'l Recreation Area

Sacramento River National Recreation Trail

Turtle Bay Exploration Park & Museum

Lake Shasta Caverns

Shasta Lake

McArthur Burney Falls State Park

Redding Civic Auditorium

Big League Dreams

Redding Soccer Park


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